Universal Studios FL has refurbished it's old "Earthquake" attraction and has re-opened it with a brand new show now called "Disaster Studios".
While the show follows pretty much the same format as the original presentation.. now, the Earthquake theme is downplayed quite a bit.
In the queue, we go pass several artifacts, such a the wreackage of an aircraft..and other faux movie posters about disaster movies.. Once inside in the first preshow area, a casting assistance selects several audience members to participate in the show.. We are also introduced to the CEO of Disaster Studios.. Mr. Kincaid, played by Christopher Walken. This is the single best improvement over the old show.. NO Chuck Heston and his pro-republican, pro-gun agenda here.. Bye Chuck! and take your comandments with you, punk!
We enter the first theater and we get to meet Mr. Kincaid, and see a montage of films that inspired him to create Disaster genre movies. Walken, as Kincaid, appears on the stage, in 3D form and he introduces us to his work. This is done quite well as we see Walken interacting with the live casting agent and other elements of the set (or projected elements that appear to be live anyways). For those who have seen Animation Celebration at Universal Studios Japan.. well it's the same technical format, you get the idea. This portion of the show goes on for a bit too long and looses the novelty after a while. It needs to be cut back a few minutes.
Next up is the action shooting stage, where the previously selected volunteers get to do some "reaction" shots for the camera. (we'll see these later on the finished film)
Once the shooting ends.. we then proceed to board the tram that will take us to the former Earthquake portion of the show. From this point on...the show is similar to what it used to be before when it was called "Earthquake". Guests embark on a subway trip to the next station where we get caught up in an big earthquake that creates fire, flash flood and havoc. WE are being told to scream and react as this is supposed to be a scene for a new disaster film.
After the Earthquake (special effect) extravaganza has ended, we then return back to the boarding platform... but here is something new... The ride trams have been equiped with suspended TV monitors, and while we are traveling back to our final destination, we get to see the trailer of the movie we (and the volunteers before us) "worked" on. It's a great way to end the ride.
My thoughts on this are positive. The show was nicely improved from the original version and new elements have been added to make it more enjoyable. It's a great way to engage the guests into "participating" in what would be a real film production, minus the actual conditions of such work..like the long wait times in between takes..and Union breaks etc etc..
The show will officially be unveiled in January 2008, and it's fun enough to occupy a good 30 mins of your day at USF. My rating is: B. Check it out on your next visit to Universal Studios Florida.